The Renaissance of Direct Mail

Direct-Mail-BenefitsEverything in life is cyclical, it’s true. Fashion, foods, movies, music, sports, the economy, all go through cycles where a trend begins, plays itself out, is replaced with a different trend, then reverts back to the original or repeating trend. The packaging, technology, and audience may update along the way, but trends and practices are in a constant cyclical state.

So it is with direct mail. Marketing today is certainly digitally-driven using email, Facebook, blogging, Pay per Click, and Tweeting to attract business and generate leads. The Postal Service is losing money and direct mail appears to be down for the count. Right?

Wrong. According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) Factbook for 2013, 65% of consumers of all ages have made a purchase as a result of direct mail.

According to Direct Mail News, in 2012 the average response rate for direct mail was 4.4% for both business-to-business and business to consumer mailings—considerably higher than industry expectations, and surging past electronic mail’s response rate of just 0.12%.

Direct mail is alive and well and going through a cyclical renaissance. As the explosion of digital channels have clogged our inboxes, direct mail finds itself standing out, getting noticed and being integrated into the marketing mix once again. Our clients who have consistently kept mailing are reaping the benefits of staying the course. We’re also seeing a resurgence of mailing activity from new clients following the lead of the classic direct marketers like LL Bean, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and even Google! I regularly receive personalized mail from Google – who practically owns the digital world – in their effort to attract me to their AdWords business.

Cost Per Lead about the Same as Email

The stigma with direct mail is the cost of printing and postage when compared to email. There’s no denying that. But remember, the purpose of doing any marketing approach is to generate leads, right? Therefore the true measure of cost and success is cost per lead. The DMA reports that the cost per lead of direct mail is in line with print and pay-per-click, and significantly less than telemarketing (See Table below). Direct mail production costs are somewhat more than email, but not enough to make email the holy grail of direct marketing when measured against the number of leads generated.

Table: Cost Per Lead Comparison

With a higher conversion rate than any other medium, the Print on Demand Institute (PODI) found that direct mail out-pulled all other channels tested in terms of conversion rates, both for lead-generating “free” offers and one-step “buy now” offers. Direct mail’s edge becomes even more dramatic when it is optimized with personalization and other factors, and combined with personalized landing pages.

Try adding your existing landing page URL to direct mail. Some buyers really prefer to respond online, and this may bring in more business at zero additional cost. This becomes even more effective when you use a personalized URL (PURL) that is easy to remember and to type—www.yourcampaignname/John.Doe makes it simple for customers to type into their Internet browser.

Direct mail also enjoys longer “shelf life” than email, so it might be profitable to evaluate your existing landing pages and offers to see what can be re-purposed to offer through direct mail. If you do, remember that people may access it weeks after the mailing, so make sure that the pages and offers are still good—or put a firm deadline on response time.

Check out my next post coming soon where I’ll highlight various types of direct mail formats and the technology energize them for even higher response rates!

Whether you currently do direct mail marketing or are considering it, contact us today to learn how direct mail may be good for your marketing mix.

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